Brown launches climate change manifesto

By Alice Cannet

Gordon Brown tried to reaffirm the UK leadership in the fight against climate change, in a new report ahead of the decisive Copenhagen conference.

The prime minister said he wanted to set up a £60 billion annual fund dedicated to helping poor countries deal with climate change towards which the UK would pay “its fair share”.

Speaking in London, Mr Brown said industrialised nations should support developing countries so they can keep growing while respecting their environmental obligations.

“Over recent years, the world has woken to the reality of climate change. But the fact that is that we have not yet joined together to act against it. Copenhagen must be the moment we do so,” he said.

He launched his manifesto today about the role of the UK at Copenhagen and what needed to be achieved at the conference to reach a new global climate agreement.

Ed Miliband, climate secretary, said the conference, where Britain will commit to greenhouse gases emissions cut to tackle climate change, will be “make or break time for the climate”.

Today’s report, ‘Road to Copenhagen’, looked at steps the UK should take to combat climate change and be a main player internationally in advance of the December conference.

He said that a Copenhagen deal should include a commitment by developed nation that their emissions should peak by 2015 before beginning to decline in 2020.

“We’re talking about reversing 150 to 200 years of the growth of carbon emissions. It’s difficult, there are many obstacles in the way but it’s do-able with the right political will.”

Lib Dem energy and climate change secretary, Simon Hughes criticised the government’s lack of initiative and described its policies as hypocritical, saying:

“Britain should be leading the world in the fight against climate change, but the government’s hypocrisy completely undermines its authority.

“If we intend to preach to others, we cannot do so while building dirty coal power stations and new runways.

“People in the UK and around the world should do all they can to tackle climate change, but we need the government to lead by example.

“Ministers should push for tougher targets that follow the science and not the politics. The UK and Europe’s emissions reduction targets still fall a long way short of what is needed to avert disaster.”

Steps taken by the government will include the issue of nearly 20,000 pamphlets in every public library and other public buildings. A new website called Act on Copenhagen will also be set up.

The pamphlets warn that consequences of climate change in the UK would include summer heat related deaths, sea level rises and food shortages by the end of the century.

Ordinary citizens are encouraged to make simple changes to their life routine such as not using tumble dryer but hanging out clothes, cutting food waste and preferring showers to baths.

“I think it is essential we engage the British public in what we are trying to sign up to and what we are discussing in the coming months, which is why we are distributing thousands of leaflets to try and explain what Copenhagen is all about because this cannot be something left to negotiators and government ministers,” Mr Miliband said.

He added: “People believe climate change is happening in the UK, most people don’t think it’s a plot or something made up, but most people don’t seem to think it will happen in their area.”

The Department for Energy and Climate Change said that despite important Chinese emissions, the average European emits twice as much greenhouse gases as the average Chinese person.

But new figures from the Stockholm Institute revealed the overall tally when including emission from aviation and shipping and those embedded in imported goods.

It was calculated, bearing those emissions in mind, that the average UK resident pollutes almost five times more than the average person in China, with 15 tonnes a year.

The Climate Change Act 2008 made the UK the first country in the world to set legally binding targets of greenhouse gases reduction.